- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Carolina Panthers safety Sherrod Martin has gone from being featured in a video on illegal hits to paying a hefty price for the NFL’s crackdown on blows to the head.

Martin said Wednesday he’s been fined $40,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on tight end Evan Moore in Sunday’s loss to Cleveland, with the large penalty coming in part because he’s a repeat offender.

Martin has been on the NFL’s radar since Week 1, when he was docked $5,000 for a hit on New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss that gave Boss a concussion. The play was the first example in a video sent to teams as the league later announced increased penalties for dangerous hits.

Now Martin will pay the price for his fourth infraction and ensuing fine for unnecessary roughness in his two-year career. With a base salary of $395,000, the latest fine will cost the 2009 second-round pick from Troy nearly two game checks.

Martin declined to comment Wednesday while his teammates expressed dismay at the size of the penalty. Houston’s Andre Johnson and Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan were fined $25,000 each for a wild, helmet-less fight in Sunday’s game.

“The man hands them down and we’ve got to pay them,” cornerback Richard Marshall said.

Coach John Fox shook his head in the locker room as he heard about the fine. Several teammates said Martin had no other choice than to hit Moore high as he came across the middle on a play near the end zone. Martin was flagged for a 15-yard penalty.

“When you start tackling lower they’re going to come up with a rule like that,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. “I’m really kind of lost in this situation.”

The fine was a hot topic in the locker room of the woeful Panthers (1-10), with many defensive players vowing they won’t change their style of play despite the numerous hefty fines.

Martin was also fined twice in 2009.

“If you’re thinking about the fine you’re not going to be playing hard. You’re going to slow up on some tackles,” Munnerlyn said. “That means you’ve got to keep playing hard and if the fines come they’re going to come.”